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Small and Treasured

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My wife recently asked me if I feel that I am female "inside."  If I am transgender, then doesn't that mean that I consider myself fundamentally female?  It turns out that those are questions I've asked myself and I am not confident I have the answers to.  After all, how can I ever know if you and I see the same color let alone if my thoughts and feelings are female?  

To try to answer these questions I try to look at the facts that I do know and then draw a conclusion:

  • I know that since preschool I've envied girls and women.  This has been a constant throughout my life, often considering what it would feel like (and wishing I could feel it) to be one. I thus feel it's certain that I have gender dysphoria.  
  • My childhood was shadowed by a clinically depressed mother and an absent father; their relationship was pretty emotionless.  I was an only child, and was often navigating rocky shoals at home, trying to please my mother or just remain out of her focus. Some have written that a single mother's attention might encourage some to "become transgender." Well I'll tell you, there are some parallels but we did not have much of a relationship at all let alone one that would encourage me to look at her as a role model.
  • Even in preschool I had shame about my envies of girls. In kindergarten when I played with the girls at their play-kitchenettes I was sure that this was shameful. My shame around my GD was a constant that developed into depression for me.  

Some ideas:
1. My shame/depression may have resulted from my mother's treatment of me expressing my gender dysphoria.  This might explain why I automatically felt shame even in preschool and kindergarten.
2. My shame/depression may have resulted from my mother's attitude, disposition, depression, and treatment of me (in general).  Why not? 
3. My gender dysphoria may thus have arisen from my childish observations that girls had it better. My home life was pretty awkward at best so it seems natural that I would wish I had it better. I sure liked some of my friend's mothers. It was like I instinctively knew what I was missing.

My gut tells me that the answer is #1, so that's what I'm going with. Okay, but am I female in my head?

In an email to my therapist a couple of months ago I told him that overall I always just wanted to be small and treasured. When I wrote it I felt a shiver like, "yeah!" He noticed it too, telling me that it was an important observation. Small and treasured does dovetail with what I imagine I'd be if I was a girl. I'm sure women outgrow most of it but I imagine it's always there, like a foundational right of being female.  

But I still lack an answer: am I female at heart? I struggle to know. I'm not that unhappy with my life as a sensitive, thoughtful, and fun male.  It's just that something feels missing.  In Dara Hoffman-Fox's book "You and Your Gender Identity: A Guide to Discovery" she writes that these kinds of self-doubts are very common. It's as if we have an internal Protector who is fed off those "am I crazy?" doubts that creep into our consciousness and are so hard to silent.  We need to acknowledge and thank our Protector for her attention but consider her advise carefully as it is often presented in ways that prevent us from moving forward.  

Yesterday I wrote another email to my therapist.  (Thank goodness he supports this.  It's so important for me to have these touchstones with him in between our meetings.)

  • As a child did I want to be small and treasured, and not receiving it, envied girls and thus wanted to feel like one?

        - or - 

  • Did I want to be a girl, and thus be small and treasured? 

I think it's the latter but it's hard to be sure and seemingly impossible to know. What I do see is that 'small and treasured' is a common denominator for me to this day. If that supports me as being female inside then so be it.  In the meantime I'm satisfied in the knowledge that I have gender dysphoria, that's it's perfectly okay and normal, and that I'm making my own progress in my own time.  

Emma

P.S. I just looked at my profile and see that I joined TGGuide on 10/27/14.  It's less than a week from my 2-Year Anniversary!  Maybe I should use Birthday instead? It feels like it.  I've grown so much over that period with so much support and guidance from our members here.  As the Grateful Dead sung, "What a long strange trip it's been."

Thank you all.


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Posted

Hi Kitrah,

Thank you for your feedback. You make a lot of good points and I agree with you on the litmus (or any objective) test for what it means to think as a female. I just walked for a couple of hours to/from a coffee shop and thought about this a lot. It is fair to say that in my life I've spent a lot of energy considering "what I'm supposed to be/act" as a male in my career, friendships, and socially. I felt like a chameleon. But it often felt forced, insincere. Especially over the last couple of years I've made a conscious decision to just be me without so much filtering and supervision. And overall that's felt good.  

And in that and in consideration of my historical thinking and behavior I'd say it's a fair bet that I do in fact think in a more feminine way. As I consider men and women that I'm around it is apparent to me that there is a lot of overlap. Not outwardly so much but in thinking and behaviors. When I think about myself as female I think I would be at the more feminine end of the spectrum which is at least partly why I chose my last name to be Sweet.  That's what I'd like to be.  

Earlier today I ordered this dress on Amazon: Urban CoCo Women long sleeve V-neck Velvet Stretchy Long Dress. As I considered it I thought about what I would wear with it, a slip, stockings, shoes. But mostly how it would feel. I realized that I can well imagine how a woman would contemplate the dress and I think that underscores what you're saying too. 

Emma

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Dear Emma,

Have always loved VELVET and VELOUR.  Growing up, as a teen, I received a beautiful hand me down from the 1950's, a purple velvet skirt from a cousin.

Presently I am thinking about buying a velour long sleeved blouse in Christmas colors from Woman Within or Roaman's.

Have always been a fan of COLOR and TEXTURE!

Your friend,

Monica

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Hi Kitrah,

Indeed, that's a pretty dress, and if I was your age or younger and single, it would be fun to wear. I'm happily married and sixty (but not too old looking! 😄) so I tend to want a little more conservative look. 

Emma

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No, all dressed up and no party to go to! 

Really, I haven't dressed up for Halloween in more than thirty years. Our friends don't gather for Halloween except to have fun with children. 

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Another delightful thread.  About Halloween and costumes, I have had the opportunity to wear several costumes lately, Green Lantern, Superman (Pink for Cancer Version), an elf and Avatar and of course as a woman(But not lately).  In the last three years, I have been able to go to almost a dozen parties and face paint the kids. (I usually wear a costume/s)  Besides doing the kids I usually face paint myself and paint additional examples of my work on my own arm.  Rainbows, butterfly's, stars, animals and super heroes.  I love to do this.  It is my feminine arty nature coming out.  I have now been requested at various fairs and I ask for donations.  I give the money to children's programs.  I too am in my 60's - still enjoying life, stretching myself and taking risks.

About the first thoughts - To me being Transgender doesn't have to mean being female rather it means being closer to the attributes that are labeled as female.  I now feel that my condition, who I am, is not a learned thing but rather in-bedded in my DNA.  I have always been an explorer; this is my nature.  Also, I visualize colors, experience touch sensations and sense sounds in a way that I believe is a female frame of mind.  I remember when I found myself putting on my first feminine outfit at about six or seven years.  It was a yellow sun suit with green flower embroidery on it.  This along with my longer hair made me look like a girl. That was an image etched in my mind. I wore the sun suit and I wanted to show the world it was me inside it, wearing it. It was the little person, girl, me, and it was there before I ever put the item of clothing on.  So the article of clothing/adornment brought out my nature and it was what is considered feminine.  As I grew up took me forever to mature - most of my life my maleness consisted of being a Pixie or a Peter Pan.  I also often masked some of my feelings about wanting a female body by being a clown.  The clown gets to wear almost anything and can make people laugh.  As a male I did not laugh. The closest I ever felt to being a male was in my Indian heritage.  Wearing minimal clothing and being highly adorned.  As a kid, I always felt more at home in my own skin when I was wearing feminine styled clothing.  Going against the norm (Accepted by most) I am more female than most males.  I have been hit on a lot - most want me because of some homosexual attraction.  I am not homo.  I too hate most of the base male characteristics.  Dirty, unkempt, Cursing, corralling.  So I am closer to female, but not female, transgender.

Have a great day!  Dawn

 

 

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Hi Dawn,

Thank you for such a sweet insight into your life and early years. I think you're very wise and treasured for being the whole person that you are regardless of the label. I suppose that's what we all want, isn't it? To simply be ourselves. You've always shown that you are delighted in your own skin in your posts and photos. Great for you!

Best wishes,

Emma

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Hugs.  We've talked a lot about everything, and I completely understand how hard it is to separate what we picked up in those early formative years from today.  You have my number, yes?  You're always free to call if you need an ear for that!  I don't have the answers, but I do have empathy and intimate familiarity with that road of what do I do with this stuff that I let hold me back forever.  *hugs*

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Hello Emma - Thanks - You too are a delightful person.  I keep wanting to meet everyone as we are all in this life journey together.  (Not practical but we do have a lot to share)

Emma - You are treasured, yes, and of course loved. 

Dawn

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Hi Emma, I can share some of your reflections and add some of my own. I remember playing mummy in the Wendy house as a five year old too, playing tea parties.

Joining the girls and wanting to be one of them. It was ok for them to play with me if they were alone but not so much when they were in a gang. They wanted to be mummy or a model and being a boy I was last in line for that role I was also confused and just didn't understand why I had a boys body when I was a girl. I had no interest in being a boy and so I became isolated. My boy friends were always those like myself who didn't quite fit in. Well no good getting maudling. I know I learned that it was wrong to be how I felt and learned how to suppress it even at that early age. My shame and guilt guided me into pretending to be a boy.

My advice to anyone reading this is not to do as I had to. Things are so much more open now. Don't build walls around yourself to keep yourself safe. Take a risk, knock down the walls and take your inner girl out to play. She will love you for it. X

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Emma,

I know I'm late to this conversation - but I wanted to thank you for sharing all of that!  It can be pretty overwhelming, and it doesn't help that there isn't really (yet) a scientific way of establishing that someone is transgender.

I spent a lot of time going through similar thought processes to what you describe above - looking back at my childhood to look for clues, etc. Then as I started transitioning I just started noticing that it felt right.  Ultimately I think it has to be a mix of rational and emotional thought - the rational part is the objective information that we can gather, but there's a limit to that, and that's where emotional thought has to take over.

Recently I wrote a letter to my sister (who hasn't been dealing well with this) to try to explain everything that I wish she would have given me a chance to say on the phone - including "how I know this is right for me" - I won't go into the detail, but I lead off with a simple "I know it's right for me because I know it's right for me."  :-)

I'm not sure where you are with your process at this point - but just keep at it, an answer will eventually come!  :-)

xoxo

Chrissy

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